Check if you can get JSA
Universal Credit has replaced Jobseeker’s Allowance for most people. Check if you can get Universal Credit.
You might be able to get Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) while you look for a full-time job. You can get it while you’re out of work, or if you’re working less than 16 hours a week.
There are 3 types of JSA:
- ‘new style’ JSA
They pay the same personal allowance, but the application process is different. Use this page to check if you can get JSA, and which type you need to claim.
Check you meet the basic conditions
You can claim JSA if you're 18 or over and under State Pension age and are:
- working less than 16 hours a week
- available to work full time
- actively looking for full-time work
- not in full-time education
- not claiming Income Support
- don’t have an illness or disability which means you can’t work
You can’t normally get JSA if you’re under 18, but there are some exceptions. Contact your nearest Citizens Advice to find out what help you can get.
Check if you can get contribution-based JSA
It’s best to claim contribution-based JSA if you can. This is because your savings, capital, and partner’s income won’t affect your claim.
You can usually get contribution-based JSA for up to 6 months if you:
- meet the basic conditions
- have worked and paid National Insurance during the last 2 years
If you’re applying for contribution-based JSA, it doesn’t matter what country you’re from.
Check if you can get 'new style' JSA
You can usually get ‘new style’ JSA for up to 6 months if you:
- meet the basic conditions
- have worked and paid Class 1 National Insurance in the last 2 to 3 years
If you’re applying for new style JSA it doesn’t matter what country you’re from.
If you can’t get new style JSA
Check if you’re eligible for Universal Credit - if you are, you’ll need to apply for that instead.
Check if you can get income-based JSA
Universal Credit has replaced income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) for most people.
You can only make a new claim for income-based JSA if you’re getting, or recently stopped getting, a benefit with a severe disability premium (SDP).
You might be getting an SDP with:
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Housing Benefit
Check your award letter to see if you're getting an SDP.
If you’re not getting an SDP you can check if you’re eligible for an SDP on GOV.UK.
If you recently stopped getting a benefit with an SDP and you’re still eligible for an SDP, you can make a new claim for income-based JSA. You must claim within a month of your old benefit stopping.
If you’re eligible for an SDP but it’s not included in your current benefit, contact your nearest Citizens Advice.
If you’re part of a couple
In most cases, you need to claim income-based JSA as a couple if your partner is also eligible.
If you or your partner are under 18 and responsible for a child, contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help before you apply. An adviser can help make sure it’s worth claiming JSA.
You’re responsible for a child if they live with you, or if you can claim child benefit for them - it doesn’t matter if you currently claim it or not. Check if you can get child benefit.
If you're from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein
To apply for income-based JSA you need to show:
- you have a right to claim benefits in the UK - this is called a ‘right to reside’ and depends on things like your work, family and personal situation
- the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man is your main home and you plan to stay - this is known as being ‘habitually resident’
- you’ve lived in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for the last 3 months - this is called the ‘3-month living in test’
If you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years or more you should apply for ‘settled status’. If you’ve got settled status you won’t need to show you have a right to reside. To get settled status you need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. Check how to apply for settled status.
Your income-based JSA payments will stop if you don't have settled status by 31 December 2020 - although the law might change to stop this happening.
If you're a returning UK resident
You’ll need to give evidence to show the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man is your main home and you plan to stay. This is known as being ‘habitually resident’.
You’ll also need to show you’ve lived here for the last 3 months - this is called the ‘3-month living in test’.
If you work part-time
Your wages will affect your JSA claim, and the rules are complicated. If you're over 18, you can use the Turn2us benefits calculator to work out how much you can get, or contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help.
How much JSA you’ll get
Each type of JSA pays the same ‘personal allowance’ each week - if you’re eligible, you can get up to:
- £57.90 if you’re 18 to 24
- £73.10 if you’re 25 or over
- £114.85 if you claim income-related JSA as a couple
The exact amount you get will depend on your circumstances - for example, if you work part-time your payment might be less.
You can get extra payments on top of your personal allowance in some cases - these are called ‘premiums’. You get a premium if you claim income-based JSA and you or your partner are:
You need to claim income-based JSA to get these premiums - you can claim both types of JSA if you need to. You’ll only get one personal allowance, but you’ll get the premiums you’re entitled to as part of income-based JSA.
Getting help with housing costs
If you claim income-based JSA, you might get extra payments to help with your housing costs - these are usually paid straight to your landlord, lender or mortgage provider.
As with the additional ‘premiums’, you’ll need to claim income-based JSA to get help with housing costs. You can claim both contribution-based and income-based JSA at the same time.
You need to ask for help with housing costs if you apply for JSA over the phone. If you apply online, it’ll be on the first section of the claim form.
If you rent your home
You might qualify for Housing Benefit to help pay rent while you claim income-based JSA - find out how much you could get on GOV.UK.
If you claim new style JSA you might be able to get Universal Credit to help with housing costs. Check if you're eligible for Universal Credit.
If you have a mortgage or other loan for your home
You might be able to get a government loan to help pay the interest on a mortgage, or another loan to pay for things like:
- the freehold of your property
- your ex-partner’s share in your property
- major repairs and improvements
The loan is called ‘support for mortgage interest' (SMI). You’ll need to pay it back - but only when you sell your home or give it to someone else.
SMI is usually paid directly to your mortgage or loan provider. It only helps pay the interest on what you’ve borrowed, not the repayments.
SMI will usually start 39 weeks (about 9 months) after you claim JSA.
If the DWP think you can get SMI, they’ll ask if you want to apply for it. They’ll usually ask 7 or 8 months after you claim JSA.
If you pay ground rent or service charge
You can get an additional JSA payment to help with your ground rent if your lease has more than 21 years left. You won’t have to pay this money back.
You might also be able to get help paying service charges if they’re for:
- building insurance - if it’s part of a condition of your lease
- small repairs, for example to water pipes or heating
- small improvements, for example painting a hallway
You can’t get normally help with your service charge if it’s for major improvements or repairs, but there are some exceptions - for example if your home would’ve been unsafe without structural repairs.
It can take up to 39 weeks to get these expenses included in your income-based JSA claim, so it’s best to apply for them as soon as possible.
Help with travel costs for jobseekers
You are eligible for some travel assistance if you are a jobseeker. You can get a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card from your local jobcentre. You need to have been claiming Jobseeker's Allowance or job hunting and claiming Universal Credit for at least three months. Your age further determines how long you need to have been claiming the relevant benefit to be eligible for the travel card:
- 3 - 9 months if you are 18-24 years old, or
- 3 - 12 months for over 25 year olds
Different travel providers may be offering different deals. Once you have your Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card check what may be on offer from the transport providers that you need to use.
From the ScotRail alliance you will be able to claim two free return tickets per month to attend interviews and, on gaining a job, a free ScotRail ticket for the first month at work. For more information go to the ScotRail Alliance website.
There are also discounts available from Stagecoach. The details are on the Stagecoach website.